September 18, 2008

from TIME – Swampland


By Joe Klein

McCain and Palin both attacked Joe Biden for saying that it was the patriotic duty of wealthier Americans to pay more in taxes. They believe it’s the patriotic duty of wealthy Americans to pay less in taxes. Alan Greenspan, formerly held in high esteem by John McCain–who once said he was going to rectify his economic ignorance by reading Greenspan’s book–thinks McCain and Palin are wrong…unless they can produce $3.3 trillion in budget savings to pay for the tax cuts. McCain has proposed some significant tax cuts–his opposition to the Farm Bill remains smart and courageous–and some earmark bon-bons tricked out as a big deal, but which only represent about $20 billion. He hasn’t proposed anything remotely resembling $3.3 trillion, nor could he. As for Biden, he’s proposing that the wealthy return to tax rates that are actually lower than those imposed by Clinton–rates which, as you recall, really stifled the economic boom of the 1990s. Obama is proposing only a 20% tax on capital gains, which is lower than 25% rate Clinton demanded, and significantly lower than the income taxes imposed on labor. And Biden’s right: in a system of progressive taxation, it is the patriotic duty of the wealthy to pay more than the middle class or the poor…and furthermore, since we’re all going to be paying for the mess the Wall Street sharks made, I’d go Biden a step further: there probably should be a confiscatory shark tax for any and all executives whose companies have gone belly up and required a federal bailout. Update: Jonathan Cohn over at TNR adds the important point that paying higher taxes during a time of war has been considered a form of patriotism throughout U.S. history. One might even argue that George W. Bush has been downright unpatriotic laying off the costs of his foolish war on our children.


the best idea i have heard so far…

Dee Dee Myers, former press secretary for President Bill Clinton:

The first thing you have to do is stop running against Sarah Palin and start running against John McCain. She’s sort of bullet-proof, so the best thing to do in my opinion is to use her enormous popularity to contrast with John McCain. I mean, I think of them as Sonny and Cher. You know, what was Sonny without Cher? He was nothing, right? And once she left him, she went on to stardom and he disappeared. He was a successful entrepreneur, he’s not an idiot, but he has no star-power. She’s the talent, she’s the excitement, she’s the draw.

What Sarah Palin has done, and this is something I like about her, is that she’s a women who has succeeded very much on her own terms. She talks about motherhood as a training ground for leadership; she manages and balances her family and her work in her own way. It’s very hard to see where her family ends and her work begins. I think a lot of women see their lives that way. Not everyone’s going to go out and shoot a moose and put their hair up in a bun and put on their sexy open-toe shoes and go to dinner. … But does everybody have to be lock-step on every issue? Or can somebody who’s outside–in Sarah Palin’s case, very much outside–the traditional feminist agenda still move the ball forward for women? I think the answer is yes. When I hear Pat Buchanan on TV, decrying sexism in the media, you know? This is not all bad. … I don’t know where abortion rights are going to end up in all this, and honestly that concerns me, but I think we need to find a different language to talk about it. I think that there are more women who identify with Sarah Palin than Gloria Steinem right now. Even if they don’t agree with 100 percent of her agenda, her life looks more like their lives.

Some people–it wasn’t the Obama campaign, but they’re suffering the consequences–came out against her so hard on such a broad range of topics, including her family, that I think the public reacted viscerally. So now everything negative that’s said about her–whether it’s true, as in charges about the bridge to nowhere, or not true, as in rumors about her baby–people discount it. And so, on some level, we could argue all day whether it matters or not what her qualifications are, the public has decided that that’s not how they’re judging this. They know she doesn’t know anything about foreign policy and they don’t really care.

The main thing about Sarah Palin is what she says about John McCain. He couldn’t have possibly won this campaign by talking about his ideas–you know, his plans for the future, his record in Washington. That was about as attractive as day-old bread. If she’s the future of the party, he’s the past. … You have to get back to Sarah Palin, what a phenom, isn’t she a remarkable person, what a great story to tell, and doesn’t she make John McCain the most boringest, most yesterday guy in the world? And let’s remember, he is, because his policies really stink. I mean, let’s use her to point out his weaknesses instead of shielding him from his weaknesses. Let’s remind people why she’s there, because he can’t get three people into a hotel ballroom without her. No one’s hearing a word he says. No one wants to hear about his policies. You’ve got to be a little careful because I don’t remember the last time when a national campaign was decided purely on the basis of policy. But who’s going to be running the show? Who’s the real agent of change here? Who’s the person who’s talking about tomorrow?

My dad is 74 my mom is 69, they use their computer every day and so do all their friends. It’s not a demographic issue; it’s a state-of-mind issue. My mom’s on there emailing Congress, emailing John McCain. She’s like, “You stop it!” It’s not that most people his age don’t use computers; it’s that he’s not in touch with the world as it works now. If you can’t send an email, if you don’t even know how to Google, I mean how do you know anything? I think that’s not an argument about age, it’s an argument about state-of-mind. John McCain is a guy whose ideas are stuck firmly in the past.